Monday, December 6, 2010

Beach Party Films & Psycho Beach Party

High School Musical is popular today, but teen films have rocked the entertainment world since the 50s.

"One of the first teen films ever was the 1955 classic ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ which tells the story of a rebellious teenager played by James Dean. He comes to a new town, hangs out with girls, doesn’t do what his parents tell him and stands up to bullies at school – what a hero!

It was the first time that films had ever portrayed young people in this way, and also the first time that society even admitted that young adults - i.e. ‘teenagers’, existed! For this reason it has been seen as a really culturally important film."

Popular films targeted at teen audiences continued to fill the wallets of film producers. In the early 60's this led to the popular beach party film.

Most films starred the same actors and actresses and the story lines were kept simple – usually revolving around couples trying to make the other jealous – sound familiar?

A typical story usually follows teens into their everyday lives, sometimes with characters breaking into song at the twinge of an angst ridden moment. Take a look at some of these links.

Beach Party film history.

Bikini Beach (1964) Original Trailer here.

Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)

Muscle Beach Party (1964)

Later, beach films began to combine the two biggest box-office teen film styles: the horror film and the beach film.

Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966)

Annette Funicello & Frankie Avalon (two big 50's/60's teenage stars)

Charles Busch is using this silly genre to entertain his modern audiences.

The film Sybil is alluded to in the script Psycho Beach Party. Sensational films like these became popular in the 1970's like the film Carrie. Both films were made in 1976.

Additionally, there is reference to Joan Crawford (as a model for Mrs. Forrest's character). Joan was a matinee idol that went on to ruin her career with silly horror films. One infamous film was William Castle's production of Strait Jacket (1964). Many gay audiences are familiar with the campy Mommie Dearest version of Crawford's life. All in all, Joan Crawford played an excellent femme fatale.

Combine this film with beach film trends and a dash of Sybil and Carrie and you get our beloved Psycho Beach Party.

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